A woman accused of embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from two high-profile local nonprofit organizations pleaded no contest Tuesday to two counts of grand theft by embezzlement, according to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office.
Morgan Rafferty, 48, entered her plea before San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge John Trice.
Rafferty, who had lived in Arroyo Grande, was accused of embezzling $31,000 from Mothers for Peace and “about the same amount” from the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo, commonly called ECOSLO, according to Dr. Clint Slaughter, who sits on ECOSLO’s board of directors.
Rafferty had served as the treasurer of Mothers for Peace before being replaced. Rafferty was the former executive director of ECOSLO.
A no-contest plea results in a conviction without an admission of guilt. Rafferty is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 5 before Trice.
The details of precisely how much money Rafferty might have to pay back to the organizations and to any other funds as part of her restitution penalty is yet to be determined.
As part of the plea agreement, a third charge of grand theft is being dismissed against Rafferty. But Trice still can take that allegation into consideration in her sentence, according to the plea deal.
Rafferty’s embezzlements took place between 2007 and 2009, according to court documents.
Mothers for Peace, a San Luis Obispo-based, antinuclear power organization, is entirely made up of volunteers. It began as an anti-Vietnam War activist group in the late 1960s.
Board members of Mothers for Peace alleged that Rafferty wrote checks to herself, but Rafferty claimed the money was paid to others for services and activities.
Those include a check for $13,500 that she allegedly paid to herself and claimed was paid to an attorney for Mothers for Peace. Similar allegations of fraudulent activity were reported at ECOSLO.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Rafferty may apply for a home detention program in place of serving time in the San Luis Obispo County Jail.
But that arrangement would need to take place between her and the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office if she’s ordered to serve time in jail at her sentencing.